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Fiction

2018

The Five Secret Truths of Demonkind in Big Echo. The earth is cursed; humans are doomed to become monsters. A demon breaches virtue’s fortress in search of God.

‘Red as Water, White as Ruin’ in Mythic Delirium. An expedition journeys to a land devastated by an unknown apocalypse, navigating an impossible curse and an impossible survivor. Secondary-world horror/dark fantasy.

‘The Owls of Juttshatan’. On a cold world of slow-moving terns, a child grows in the shadow of her mother the war hero. She is a creature of peace, raised in quiet among maps and dreams and owls. But she can be more, if she chooses. A space opera novelette of brutal bildungsroman. Prequel to ‘Autodidact’

2017

‘You and I Shall be as Radiant’. Hu Feilin is a survivor of genocide, one of the last of her world. She knows of only one other, her sister Hu Liyan, a child selected by the tyrants for military training. To get Liyan back, Feilin will overcome anything: ancient ghosts, a genocidal army—or her own sister’s wish.

‘After-Swarm’. In the far future, soldiers are sent to fight a proxy war on a distant planet to solve the question: who owns Earth? But with the war resolved, soldiers no longer have a use. Emilia, once valued for her machine affinity, must return to the life she left behind and face a world ordered anew.

‘No Pearls as Blue as These’ in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Bidaten is a bulwark, one of those bred as living weapons to fight horrors from beyond the high, vast walls that keep humanity safe from monsters. Duty is all she knows until her lord brings home a beautiful foreign bride.

‘Fade to Gold’ in Pseudopod (audio reprint). Narrated by Jen Zink.

‘The Universe as Vast as Our Longings’ in The Jewish Mexican Literary Review. In a far future, a country of tyrants conquers a world and takes in its children to raise as willing collaborators. When all you have is nothing, living itself is resistance. 6,200 words.

‘The Sun Shall Lie Across Us Like Gold’ in Clockwork Cairo (ed. Matthew Bright, Twopenny Press). Post-colonial steampunk in 19th century Thailand. Sequel to ‘The Governess and We’. 3,500 words.

‘Parable of the Cocoon’ in Big Echo. When the aliens came it was not to invade, but to uplift humanity for the purposes of an inscrutable war. Human subjects are selected for alien communion, given to perceive time in parallax… or perhaps something else entirely. 5,800 words.

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Revisions (2019)

I absolutely didn’t think I would finish watching this show (let alone review it). This is one of those anime that comes off very derivative and barely watchable for the first half or so and then gets inexplicably decent in the second half. It’s an anime that looks and sounds like it was made by cobbling together about 20 other, much better shows.

Revisions is directed by Taniguchi Goro, yes Taniguchi of Code Geass fame. Which was funny to learn because I spent a lot of time thinking ‘god this looks like Code Geass rejects’ as I went through the first three episodes. Which means it is, most likely, literally Code Geass design rejects. But as a whole this anime looks… secondhand. Here’s a guy who looks almost identical to Shinji (it becomes more obvious when he’s piloting). How about these monster designs from RahXephon? Hey, isn’t this entire part from Planet With? Another issue is that Revisions is animated in that dreaded CGI style that, presumably, helps cut costs. It’s very hard to watch and the style makes me clench my teeth immediately, even if it still looks a hundred times more polished than its western counterparts (e.g. Dragon Prince). The cell-shaded CGI thing just doesn’t look good on anyone, in stills or in motion, and if you’ve already seen good animation before–I understand people who exclusively watch western cartoons have seen no such thing–it just sticks out as an unfortunate, hideous eyesore.

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5 Anime for People Who Don’t Watch Anime

There are people who don’t watch anime because they think it’s all childish or creepy, but they will watch Ghibli though. You know the type. Here’s a list of anime you could try on people like that. My criteria focus on these titles being essentially fanservice-free, suitable for adults, and having appeal that doesn’t require an entire episode of ‘world-building’ (ick) setup or convoluted bullshit.

Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san. This is adorably animated, cheery, and a slice-of-life where the author has actually experienced the profession in question: bookselling. It doubles as an educational glimpse into how publishing and bookselling work in Japan. The show takes time to explain concepts and industry practices the viewers might not be familiar with, making it especially good for viewers new to the medium.

Double Decker Doug and Kirill. One part parody of buddy cop show, one part a touching story about friendship and which also happens to have a load of lesbian representation, set in a homonormative world. For western viewers, the city depicted in this show should also be pretty comfortable, since it appears to be modeled after one American city or another. Or Eastern European? I don’t know. Anyway, it’s lots of fun, the lesbian rep is pretty great, and there’s no fanservice to speak of.

Psycho-Pass. A dystopian cyberpunk show set in future Japan. Relatively gory and heavy, and also very political, but it has the upside of being very much meant for adults in terms of political sophistication (it is not, contrary to what some fans think, a show about how police brutality is great). It’s smart, compelling, and the only romantic relationship in it is between two women. Cool. You can recommend it to people who like Bladerunner and The Matrix.

The Case Files of Lord El-Melloi. This might seem an odd choice, but I wager it’s the only Nasuverse animated title that dispenses with the explanations on magic and the world in a few succinct sentences. It’s not burdened by the Grail War guff, and it’s beautifully animated but conventionally so that people used to Ghibli won’t be scared. Best of all, it’s easy to sell: just tell people it’s kind of like Harry Potter! There’s a magic school and it’s set in London, see?

Ghost in the Shell: Innocence. The oldest title on this list! I mean, it’s Ghost in the Shell and I think it’s better than the first movie. It remains gorgeous despite the age (and it is so very old), and it’s smart and contemplative so the bursts of violence are that much more explosive and jarring. Just tell people it’s like if Hollywood’s Battle Angle Alita doesn’t suck, okay?

Fate/Stay Night: Heaven’s Feel ii. lost butterfly

It’s time for Goth King Arthur to shine. I like how the film poster hides Archer’s arm. Apologies for the screenshot quality, they were all taken from a crappy camrip but in the theater everything looks gorgeous.

Right off the bat, it’s a huge improvement over Presage Flower which, let’s be really honest, sucked. Visually stunning, but so much of its runtime was taken up by completely limp ‘character development’ devoted to building up the Sakura/Shirou romance but which succeeds only in showing that they have the chemistry of dead, rotting fish. The second film continues along this line but now Sakura has a lot more interiority–literally, we get to hear her inner monologue and see her dreams. It’s a good change, and prioritizes her more as a protagonist in her own right rather than just Shirou’s love interest and prize. The oppressive atmosphere also becomes much more intense, so that even the slice-of-life scenes are quietly sinister.

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Science fiction/fantasy by writers of color recommendation list

Some author overlap with the lesbian list, since I naturally read a lot of writers of color regardless.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. Non-binary protagonist, queer relationships.

The Devourers by Indra Das. A lot of the characters are fluid of gender and sexuality; all the shapeshifters are, and the central relationship is queer.

Prime Meridian by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Quiet literary science fiction.

Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw. Lovecraftian noir.

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead. Near-future SF.

All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Military SF. I don’t recommend this without reservations, but it’s a fun read.

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi. Fabulist meta-narratives about stories and storytellers.

A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson. High fantasy; gay male primary characters.

Short fiction

Vajra Chandrasekera

Christopher Caldwell-Kelly

Troy L. Wiggins

FAQ

Where’s [my favorite book/author]?

I either haven’t read them or I didn’t like/couldn’t finish the book. Feel free to make your own list.

Why’s the list so small?

Eventually it will be less small.

But [this book] isn’t really science fiction or fantasy!

Magic realism and fabulism are nice, actually.

My 2019 anime guide

Pretty thin season, like usual. Of those currently airing, I’m only really watching two: Kakegurui XX and Boogiepop and Others.

The second season of Kakegurui is business as usual, with a twist that we’re seeing an unusual amount of new content, original to the anime only. The Tower of Doors arc got cut (but, mysteriously, there’s an anime poster for it… hmm) so we’re derived of the lesbian fall into a field of white lilies–I’m being literal, two girls fall into a field of white lilies after confessing their love, sort of–but we’re treated to the anime-original character, Batsubami Rei, a butch lesbian who’s been turning girls’ heads and who is just a massive walking tower of gay. She’s good and a much-needed addition to Kakegurui’s yuri bait: the only butch in either show or manga, and the only girl period to wear the academy’s boy uniform. Mmm, gay. The anime also seems to be setting up the Vice President and Saotome Mary as a ship in a big way that I don’t recall being in the manga. Mmm, very gay. Sayaka also comes really close to tasing a man to death for the crime of invading the president’s personal space so there’s hope yet that the anime will go ahead with confirming them as a couple.

Boogiepop, Vinland Saga, Kimetsu no Yaiba

Guest post: A Few of the Little Red Reviewer’s Favorite Things

Today I’ve got Andrea over from The Little Red Reviewer! She’s a superb reviewer, smart, and all around a lovely person, and today she’s here to tell you about her new Kickstarter project. Without further ado…

andrea pic 3.jpg

These are a few of my favorite things

When The Little Red Reviewer first started, the books I reviewed came from my bookshelf or from the library.  I’d scan the “new” shelf at the library and see what caught my eye.  Guilty as charged: I was mostly reading popular books from big publishers, as at the time, those were the books that were easiest to find. So, it’s 2010, 2011, and my blog is chugging along nicely. The books I was reading were fun and all, but I felt like I was reading the same story over and over and over again.  There had to be more out there, the universe couldn’t possibly be this small.

And then around 2012 / 2013 two events occurred that changed my world:  I read my first Clockwork Phoenix anthology from Mike Allen, and I attended a small science fiction-fantasy convention in Ohio. Mike has now put out 5 volumes of the Clockwork Phoenix anthologies, and that first one that I read was a watershed moment for me.  I had struggled with anthologies for what felt like forever, and this was the first time I felt like an anthology worked for me.   I thought I didn’t like short stories, I thought I didn’t like anthologies. Little did I realize that what I was really saying was “I’ve not yet found an anthology that works for me”.

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